Aug 29, 2012

Rest In Peace....

This is my account of a fatal accident.

There are some things that you never want to see. And some things you will never forget. Today I witnessed the scene of a fatal accident. The image will haunt me. This is the tenth time I have witnessed  the scene of a life expired. I feel the best way for me to find peace about this, is to write it down. Perhaps you may want to skip this blog post...

I was driving east when I noticed traffic began to slow drastically quick. Everyone began to merge to the right lanes and as with any delays in traffic, I began to look around for the cause. On the left shoulder, just beyond the overpass, I could see all sorts of debris including fiberglass, glass, metal and one of those large light poles used in the center of the Interstate. On the west bound side, I noticed several clusters of cars with people standing around holding each other, but none of the cars looked to be damaged. About that time is when I noticed a truck sitting under the overpass, pressed up against the jersey wall. There were no emergency vehicles there, so I just assumed the accident was being cleared up and any injuries had already been attended to. The truck was totaled. The hood was crushed in towards the cab. The cab was crushed down into the drivers seat, the windshield was pushed in to the steering wheel.

I wish this had been the only view I had seen, but I was heading east and passed by the driver's side. As I was stunned by the damage, I noticed something not quite right. The driver's door was literally ripped off its hinges and .....

He still had his seat belt on. 

The news reports say he was ejected. He was not fully ejected... One leg still in the truck, foot wedged in the steering wheel. Seat belt still wrapped around his waist, but his waist is now at the bottom of the door frame. His upper body hanging down over his steps. He still had his seatbelt on... I think that part bothers me the most. Something hit the truck so hard that it was peeled open and he was dragged outside, but he still had his seatbelt on. His shoe was missing, his blue jeans were ripped, but that seatbelt keeps haunting me.  I apologize if this post seems insensitive, but I am trying to remove the vision from my memory. The truck was pressed against the jersey wall, and all I can see is that seatbelt stretched around his waist...

Moving passed the scene, I immediately burst into tears, a deep heart wrenching sob. I am fairly certain, his life ended abruptly and without time for pain. But, my thoughts always extend to the family, the wife, the kids, the people who were standing on the side of the road, the ones who had run to the truck to see if he was okay, the ones who drove by and saw everything that I saw, the emergency workers... I have been told that people become numb to these types of tragedies. The people who attend the scene and clean up the debris, the emergency responders. I cannot imagine ever being that desensitized, but I sincerely hope that they do. I hope they all sleep well tonight and find comfort with their families. 

Aug 23, 2012

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Aug 13, 2012

Pucker Up

Just another one of those things I was able to check off the "First" list.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of blowing my first steer tire in 15 years of driving. I was quite astonished to find out it was no where near as frightening as I thought it would be. Basically, I heard the noise, felt the front end raise as if I had run over something and then wop wop wop wop wop. It was not much of a struggle to keep control of the truck and ease off onto the shoulder out of harm's way. Perhaps, the low center of gravity on a car-hauler played a vital role in this.

And while I do seem to have exquisite luck, ( I will not indicate which end of the spectrum my luck tends to run), I was actually very lucky in the amount of damaged that was sustained.

Managed to keep my fender!

That is no illusion. With the dropped cab and blown tire, my fuel tank is hovering an inch above the ground.

Damage to the hydraulic lines for the front cylinder where the rubber slapped it a few times.

If you noticed in the first picture, there is slight damage to the fender, but I was able to reattach the mud flap and with the "new" used tire in place, I was able to drive away. No brake damage, no hood damage, no damage to any components under the hood.... At least that I know of. 

I am also very thankful that a few weeks ago, I took it upon myself to have my right fuel tank rotated. It has an aluminum elbow on the bottom which is attached to the hydraulic oil tank. Notice how low that tank is sitting? I would have sheared a good portion of that elbow off and perhaps caused a substantial oil spill.

The hydraulic lines did take a good punch. There will be no moving the front of the deck over my hood until those are replaced. I tested it to see if it was punctured and the 8' rooster tail of oil was a pretty good indication. What this means is I was unable to raise the hood to check for more damages from the blown tire. But at least I was able to unload that evening and had an appointment to get the lines repaired the next morning. Sure, I know it all sounds bad, but with minimal damages I was able to mark one more "first" off my list.

Aug 6, 2012

Old Dogs... and New Tricks

I often see pictures on the Internet of various loads on car-haulers and think "WOW"!

While I am getting very comfortable and perhaps a bit more efficient in the loading the standard 9 car, new inventory loads, I probably need to take a little more time to experiment and find out the limitations of my rack. Because most of the new inventory that I haul is small to average size, it is quite easy to throw them on and go.

Standard Load
The bottom of the trailer is pretty basic. Pull on the first car. Back the next over the tandems. And the last car gets pulled in to meet length requirements. Because the product lines that I haul are of average size, it always fits this way. Last week, I got a load of Honda Accords. While it is still not a big car, I did not have the luxury of mixing in a few shorter SUVs. And while I would have normally just shoved them in following this pattern, I thought it was a perfect time to learn to "stack the belly".

So I set about loading the truck and when it got time to place the last 3 cars, I asked the guy next to me for a little advice. I don't know, maybe it is just my personality, but when I ask a simplistic question I expect a simplistic answer. So the guy proceeds to give me a little advice. And then a little more advice. And some more... And another tidbit. Now, I already had 6 cars loaded and strapped, so it was starting to get on  my nerves that he was trying to enlighten  me on how to load the whole truck with various loads. And even more frustrating was the placement of the 7th car ended up being wrong and it would have caused me to tear up the trunk of that car whenever I turned. Somewhere during all of his narrative, another driver comes over and decides to throw in his one hundred and 27 cents worth. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I have been doing this almost a year now and I think I have the basics pretty well covered. I just wanted to learn something new. In the end, I ended up yanking the 7th car off and loading in my standard pattern. It worked, and the guys wandered back to their trucks.

The next morning, I decided to try again. I was in the middle of a reset on my hours, so I had plenty of time to figure it out, without an over abundance of unsolicited advice. While it wasn't necessary for this particular load, the knowledge will definitely come in handy with longer vehicles.

The outcome... With the first car backed in and raised, I can tuck the second car underneath which allows for a longer car to be loaded without having to run the load longer. Yay, another victory for me!!!

I guess I may sound a little ungrateful. But if I asked how to tie my shoes, then explaining how to put on pants, button, zip and belt them and which arm goes into which sleeve, and how to apply toothpaste to the toothbrush.... well, I am sure you understand. A week later, I took a chance on asking another driver a very pointed question, and he gave me a very pointed answer.. Perfect!!